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Ancient Klimax and the passage of Portitsa

University of Peloponnisos

As Pausanias mentions, there were three roads connecting Argos with Mantinea. One of them was the famous Klimax. The realization of such a project, through inaccessible areas, required impressive expertise, but also political, economic and social cooperation between the ancient cities of Peloponnese. The road was constructed within the framework of Peloponnesian League, since its construction required cooperation between city-states, which had not always had harmonious relations between them. Many scholars believe that the extensive road network of Peloponnese, particularly served the military operations of Sparta, for the rapid movement of troops. The road took its name from the artificial levels used to facilitate the passage of wagons. The remains of the road have a width of approximately 2.5 metres. The most impressive part of this road is the passage of Portitsa, which was an artificial opening of the rocks that allowed the ancient route to pass. The technical characteristics are at least impressive since the opening is 22m long, 3.2 to 5 metres wide, and 1.5 to 6m deep. . Moreover, the rocks were made rough to prevent sliding. Near the passage there are traces of an ancient sanctuary possibly dedicated to Hermes. Today a path, starting from the village of Saga, leads to the ancient road and passage. The road and the passage of Portitsa have been used continuously up until recently. Klimax was used by the Romans, the Byzantines and during the years of the revolution. Through there Feidippidis passed running from Athens to Sparta to ask for assistance in dealing with the Persians. In recent years, the super-marathon, known as Spartathlo, has been revived.

During the Ottoman Empire, there was a cobbled road serving the same areas near the ancient road built with different technology, since the ancient road had only 4-6 turns and the ottoman road had more than 12 turns. The cobbled road, known as Skala is still there today.

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